First, congratulations on beating cancer! We all understand how constant pain can wear you down and hope you find the patches effective.
The fentanyl patch is no better or worse than any other narcotic. Yes, it's very potent but that's why it's dispensed in micrograms rather than milligrams. There are some pros and cons to the patch. On the pro side, it's really nice to have three-day (or two-day depending on how your doctor prescribes it) coverage. No waking up in withdrawal in the middle of the night as sometimes happens with pills and it's a very effective medication. There have been bad stories in the press about the patch, but keep in mind that bad things happen to people who abuse them. Used as directed by your doctor they're very safe.
The cons are mostly minor irritations. Some people are sensitive to the adhesive and break out in a rash. As long as you place new patches in a different place each time you should be fine. If pills aren't an alternative, ask your doctor about spraying the area with nasal steroid medicine. Just spray, let dry and place the patch.
Patches should be placed in an area that you don't sweat much and don't have much hair. Some people have to shave the area first since too much hair doesn't allow contact with the skin. I've had the best results using my ribcage area.
People sometimes have trouble with patches falling off, usually in the shower, from sweating or because they're placed where clothing can rub them off. During the summer I use Nexcare brand bandages to cover the patch. They use Tegaderm which allows for oxygen exchange so your skin doesn't get sweaty and irritated. If you're using a 75 mcg or 100 mcg patch, you'll probably want to use the Nexcare elbow or knee patches to get full coverage. Nexcare also makes a sports version of the larger-sized bandages and NOTHING is going to get those babies off until you decide they're coming off.
There are two different kinds of fentanyl patches on the market. The original one is a kind of a pouch filled with gel. The other is a flat patch that has the fentanyl embedded in the adhesive. It looks like a piece of Scotch tape. Mylan is one manufacturer of the flat patches and I've had the best results from that one vs. any of the gel pouch patches. They stick better and actually last the full 3 days. Everyone is different though, so just bear in mind that there are options out there if you have trouble with the one you're currently using.
Another benefit of the Mylan patch is that it can be cut. You should never cut the gel pouch patches for obvious reasons - all the gel will leak out. So why is that a benefit? If you get to point that you don't need the patch anymore, cutting off tiny bits at a time makes detoxing very easy to do without suffering much, if any, withdrawal symptoms. Some people are probably going to gripe at me for writing this, but that's how I'm getting off the patch with the full knowledge and support of my doctor.
Hopefully I didn't overwhelm you with all this stuff. Like I said, most of the problems people experience with the patch are minor and have to do with the adhesives. It's certainly worth trying.
It has been a great choice for me, I have been in chronic pain for years and I like not having to worry about so many pills and running out and all that, the patch is constant and works for me, for some people its too strong so be very careful and keep em locked up. I hope you find relief. The first week they made me sleepy but that was it. Otherwise no side effects for me. Write me if you have any other questions. Hope this info helps.